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I am a newbie (8 months experience) in a coding related, service based startup company in India. Most of the time, I am forced to work overtime, during weekends, and during holidays. Neither my supervisor, manager, nor colleagues help me in this regard. I really enjoy my work, but I don't like to sacrifice my free time.

How do I handle it?

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    Please specify a country/state/location. The answers you're going to receive are going to be different based on where you are located. Feb 21 at 7:11
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    Who forces you to do overtime?
    – Helena
    Feb 21 at 7:14
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    And what do they do to force it?
    – Player One
    Feb 21 at 10:07
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    Please edit your question and update it with the info being asked by others. I'd like to know if you have ever said no to such a request? What do you think will happen if you say, "Sorry, I can't work weekends - I have plans to spend it with my friends and family and I really need the break. I'll start work on what you asked the first thing on Moday." If you are not sure, say it to them the next time you are asked to work overtime and tell us their response.
    – sfxedit
    Feb 21 at 14:36
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    @Helena My project lead or my colleague (who has 3 yr exp). It's just that due to a load of work, I cannot complete it on time during office work. I get appraisal from my manager , but overtime (always unpaid) is something I cannot accept
    – Skumar
    Feb 22 at 6:13
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I really enjoy my work, but I dont like to sacrifice/waste my free time.

How do I handle it?

Find a job that doesn't require overtime. That likely means avoiding startups.

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    I feel this kind of answer isn't really helpful. With the world economy being what it is, not everybody can find and switch jobs easily. Especially an inexperienced person. Moreover, running away isn't always the apt solution. S/he is asking for inter-personal tips here on how to first try to resolve this issue before considering that "last option" (of quitting and finding another job).
    – sfxedit
    Feb 21 at 14:43
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    @sfxedit > While maybe not terribly helpful, still it seems valid. When working in an environment where overtime is considered the norm, getting things to change is just going to be a waste of time and efforts. And not playing by the "rules" will probably just get you fired, so in the end you'll be looking for a new job anyway. Probably better to do it from your own initiative while you still have an income. I don't see it as running away, but moving forward.
    – Laurent S.
    Feb 22 at 8:28
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    @LaurentS.: "My supervisor, manager, nor colleagues help me in this regard." implies that there is something to address here, so it's not just a matter of it being a norm or inevitable fact of life at this company. Also, I really disagree on principle with the core "you might not be able to change it, so don't even bother trying" attitude. By that same logic, you could argue that OP might not find a better job and thus shouldn't bother trying, leaving no option on the table. Quite the reverse: if leaving is already on the table, might as well try talking to the company first.
    – Flater
    Feb 22 at 11:07
  • @JoeStrazzere: That might very well be the case, but it's (IMO) just not an argument for not engaging an employer you're already working for in favor of just blindly leaving without seeing if a working solution can be found for both parties. It's easy to recommend finding another job when it's just some online advice that doesn't affect the giver of that advice when they're not the person having to do all the leg work and take all the risk (e.g. if the company finds out and no other offer has yet been made).
    – Flater
    Feb 22 at 11:47
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    @JoeStrazzere: The comments mention OP getting conflicting information (manager is okay with it, project lead is not). This again proves that it's not unavoidable (because otherwise the manager wouldn't consider agreeing to it), it's a matter of a genital measuring contest between two other people. Could you leave over that kind of thing, or advise people that they could leave over that? Sure thing. Should you leave over that, or advise people that they should leave over that? Resoundingy no.
    – Flater
    Feb 22 at 11:55
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Other than changing job and finding a larger company with fixed hours, here are some questions you should address first.

Are you really being forced? - Always remember that you can hand in your notice at any time. It's easy to forget this and feel trapped.

  • Has your employer said you need to do overtime, or are you choosing to do it?

I say this because I know many people in start-ups that feel "forced" to work overtime. They do it and then complain about being overworked, but no one actually asked them to do it.

  • What happens if you don't work the over time?

Are they going to fire you, or will the project be delayed... if you don't do it, does it really matter?

  • Which country, and what does you contract say about overtime?

Do some research on employment law, it's likely there are maximum hours and laws on how/if an employer can require you to do overtime.

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    +1 for the question, "Are you really being forced?" Startups have a culture, and it is easy to pick up on the cultural queues. You have probably never been asked to work more hours, you just feel peer pressure to do so. The answer is "don't have anything to do, so you should go home" If you get ahead of your work (by working smarter, not by working more hours), you won't have anything to actively do. Look into unit testing to save all of that manual verification time, and think of how to work faster (and then stop when the day is over, rest will help you work fast too)
    – Edwin Buck
    Feb 21 at 13:36
  • Yes. I am forced. I travel almost 60 km a day (back and forth) and since my company does not have travel allowance, I ask them to leave 1 hr early. My manager (who is second in hierarcy) says that it's okay as long as I complete my work, but my Project Lead and other colleagues frown on that. ANd since I answer to my project lead, he asks me to stay for long
    – Skumar
    Feb 22 at 6:16
  • Also, due to insane workload, I cannot complete the work during office hours. So , I have to work overtime
    – Skumar
    Feb 22 at 6:17
  • You say you ask to leave early - it's not really overtime if you have to work your contractual hours. How many hours are in your contract, and does anyone complain if you leave after working those?
    – Erik
    Feb 22 at 10:55
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    @Skumar - Sounds like you are asking to leave an hour early instead of working 8 hours then leaving. You living 60 km away from your job isn't a company concern. Now if the company culture is to finish whatever you are working on 30 minutes before you are suppose to leave that would be considered OT (under the assumption that it takes 1 hour to finish it)
    – Donald
    Feb 22 at 21:10
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As Joe says, find a job that doesn't require overtime. It may even be the company that you are working for. Once you decided for yourself that you are willing to leave this company and work somewhere else, and once you have found that there are other jobs around, lots of pressure is gone from you and you are in a much better position.

You can for example demand that you should be paid for your overtime. In most places, the company must pay you for overtime. An exception is the USA where you can be "exempted" and have to do unpaid overtime if required by the business. However, a business not hiring enough people to do all the work means it is not required by the business. You will likely see how suddenly overtime isn't required anymore if it isn't free for the company. Alternatively, you will see how overtime becomes much more acceptable if it puts money in your pocket.

OR you can tell them that your overtime means you are constantly overworked and not able to be as productive as you should be, and that you would do a much better job without the overtime. Which any decent manager would know anyway. If they need you to do overtime, then they are not really in a position to fire you, right? If they threaten to fire you, that's also a very strong argument. And knowing that you can get another job means you can make all these arguments with confidence.

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    This answer shows a serious misunderstanding of what it means to be an exempt worker.
    – Donald
    Feb 22 at 2:47

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